In many ways, we’re still learning about the possibilities carbon fibre offers the cycling world. Kestrel astounded us in 1987 with its 4000 model road bike — the first to be made completely from the material — and today Ben Farver of Argonaut Cycles is as much of a pioneer, exploring custom layups with his Spacebike frames that offer variable riding characteristics.
Ben has been perfecting his method of modifying the direction of the carbon weave in a frame so that it affects stiffness in different areas. Head tubes can be reinforced, internal seat posts can be featured — or not, bottom brackets can be beefed up, while the rear triangle can be slimmed down to increase compliance — even to the point where the ‘feel’ of a carbon frame can resemble that of a steel model.
Argonaut is based in Bend, Oregon, about eight hours drive north of Sausalito, California, home of the Above Category store. There, you have access to some of the most exclusive and desirable brands, including Argonaut. They recently choreographed this example for a Bay Area customer who wanted a custom bike designed specifically for climbing, but tough enough to withstand the rigours of air travel.
This Argonaut is going to regularly make the trip to Colorado to ride some epic climbs and, ergo, long and steep descents, so these properties were considered in the layup — something not possible with a monocoque frame. Although Above Category can build you an ultralight bike with rare components, they were off the list as far as this one was concerned.
A mechanical Campagnolo Super Record group set was installed. Aesthetically, it’s the most muscular on the market and, mechanically, one of the most superior. The carbon fibre bodies of the derailleurs were also a perfect match to Ben’s frame. There’s a 12-29T cassette on the rear with a 172.5 crankset on the front, mounted to a CeramicSpeed bottom bracket.
The wheels are also complementary: Lightweight‘s Meilenstein Obermayer Schwartz Edition tubulars, also rolling on CeramicSpeed coated ball bearings, which will make those Colorado descents even faster. A pair of gunwall 23mm Vittoria Corsa Evo SC provide the only contrast to the bike’s obsidian colour scheme.
A complete Fizik finishing kit was the final touch: a 7° 120mm Cyrano R1 stem forms the basis of the cockpit, along with a ‘Made for Bull’ Cyrano handlebar, wrapped in Tacky Black tape. An Antares saddle is the the crown, atop a carbon Cyrano seat post. That’s one helluva carbon footprint but it’s also pure function and form.
Special thanks to Matt White and Derek Yarra for the superb photos. Derek’s also the head mechanic at AC, and his work is just as impeccable as his photography.